We're not paranoid!

I sometimes get the feeling in committee meetings or training sessions that people think I'm being a conspiracy-theorist type when I talk about public bodies using the two-by-two rule to discuss public business out of the public eye.

The general rule is that when 3 or more members of a public body get together to talk about public business it must be done at a meeting that is open to the public and notice of the meeting has been given.

The law also says that members can contact each other one-on-one (i.e., 2 of them) to ascertain one another's votes. This section has been stretched over the years so that public bodies now use it to have full-blown discussions about public business in groups of two. It's not illegal, but it also can feel, well, kind of icky.

We opposed the proposal by Hanover County to allow 3 or more (so long as it didn't constitute a quorum) because we disfavor maneuvers that are used to avoid public discussion.

If by chance you think I'm being paranoid, how's this: an email from a County-That-Won't-Be-Named, asking members to sign up for slots to meet TWO-BY-TWO with a local business.

XXXX has been advised that representatives from XXX would like to meet with the Board members late in September to brief you on the improvements and plans for its facility here in XXXX.  They ask if it would be possible to meet with you individually or in twos the morning of Friday, September 27.

Please let me know your availability to meet with these representatives for all of the below times:

          9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

          10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

          11:00 a.m. – 12:00 Noon

Once I have your availability, I will contact each of you with your specific time to meet.  Thank you


Of course, nothing would prevent this private business from conducting its own one-on-one or even two-by-two meetings. But having a county employee serve as a meeting liaison to facilitate the discussion just feels, well, icky.

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